I know when I’m in a flow state, through experience I get that. I can usually tell when I have just hit it. This goes for so many different moments in life, not only making music.
Yet there is a paradox of the flow state. You lose track of time. When you are done, you are surprised at the clock and say this can’t be! Nothing else exists. Someone is calling your name but your eyes are glued to your task.
I think it is a combination of doing what you love so locked in and getting lost in the moment entirely. Your surroundings become mute, whatever tools you are working with become an extension of your self.
Another way of looking at is as if all of a sudden from nowhere ideas begin to cascade before your eyes as ideas before you, usually landing quicker than your physical body can process and produce. It happens naturally.
That’s how I have consider the flow state. It is almost absent minded, but not quite. Absent minded in regards to anything that doesn’t belong what it is you are doing. It feels like your brain is firing on all cylinders. When I usually lock myself into a session of music making, I tend to do it all in one go.
But if I know it can not all be done in one session, I will get as much as I can do on that particular day. I’ll try to extract points that helped me to get into this state flow and overall creativity.
Visualize your goal
We all have our reason for doing things. There must be an overall goal you must be aiming towards.
Apathy is considered the opposite of flow. Kill apathy by setting goals, right down your reasons for doing things, looking at your purpose will realign you with remember why you are doing your goals. If you can attach a strong emotional purpose to it, your engine of purpose will become stronger.
I find goal oriented people tend to be more lucky haha. Being that they never let up and do not stray from their goals and they work diligently. The more you work towards your goals, the easier it will be to get into states you require, in this case the state of focusing and flow.
Organize your environment
Organizing your environment can mean your physical room you are trying to be focused within.
You will want to clean up your work environment, as this ensures your room is functional and you know nothing will cut from the flow of what will about to take place.
Phone? Turn it off, throw it out, lock it in. We are constantly pinging in this society back and forth – let’s go back to a new age of concentration where you are in a field of whiteness like the loading program in The Matrix and before you is only your task. Proceed. Zen.
Your mental environment you are attempting to breakthrough. If you have a wandering mind, if you feel your are easily detracted from previous thoughts of the day, memories or fantasies, I would definitely get on some kind of meditation program. Meditation should detangle your mind from your attachments – from yourself, your ego in creation and in getting to the state of flow.
Meditation and mindfulness is highly conducive, in my opinion to get this flow state down.
Achieving a sense of flow on the computer is more challenging today. As I’ve said before, we are living in the age of distraction. The computer has become the hub for everything, communication, photo work, music production, banking, gaming, etc.
You will want to limit your time to this if it doesn’t serve your goals in a positive manner. Eliminate distractions, cut the bullshit. I recommend a low information diet and selective ignorance diet as suggested by the author Tim Ferriss: http://www.4hourlife.com/2012/03/17/the-5-foods-of-a-low-information-diet/
Productivity feels better to me. I get estranged from people that wish to do absolutely nothing but lay in bed and watch netflix from their laptops. Accomplishing something feels better to me.
Another component I would prop up to being helpful in achieving a flow state. Similar to meditation in that it helps for feeling good. Exercise is fantastic.
I believe I am most creative – though I can’t quantify it – I feel most creative after my blood has been pumping for a good while, getting some oxygen and blood flowing will get ideas rolling. The body is designed to move. Don’t you know we were once hunter gatherers!?
Activity gets the blood flowing and gets you in a great mood, your mind can’t enter a good state if you are in a negative state.
Make it a habit
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Making something a habit requires discipline. Getting good at something should be a daily thing.
If you skip a week of working on your craft, you will find you have to start up again slow, you must do it daily. The habit of doing something daily can’t be seen within a week, but once the years accumulate, if you are hard on yourself you may not notice but other people will begin to take notice.
if you want to be like x, you will have to do more than x or produce the equivalent of x otherwise you will be nowhere near the level of x. Simple logic and logistics really.
If you can produce more than you consume, you will be amazed at yourself when you come to the results.
Productivity and habit are cyclical. Once you have done it enough times your brain starts to reward you with a good feeling, and the idea that you can be better, you will want to accomplish more.
The flow state will shake your hand more readily and easily if you let yourself become available to it. If you want to make the flow state your friend you can’t be shy, you gotta ask it out, take it out as often as possible.
Action is your only friend
You won’t get into a state of flow if you do not get into a state of action. Don’t let yourself get paralyzed from outward circumstance, you are not your circumstances. And not just action for the sake of saying you took action to make yourself feel good, but planned out action on the train tracks to your goals.
I hope this fires you up as much as it fires me up in writing it! Take a leap of faith and take action! Do what you must do.
Until next time.